With the global spread of the pandemic, Isle of Man TT fans and riders have been denied the past two years of their annual “adrenaline fix.” Some even began to speculate whether the TT would survive the enforced hiatus – or what form it might take when it returned. But they needn’t have worried. The TT’s Development Team has put together a two year programme to improve and grow the event even beyond what they’ve achieved so far – and it looks like it’s going to be bigger and better than ever!
The TT's Future’s Bright
Over the course of 114 years, apart from the breaks during the two world wars and this past two years, the TT has only been cancelled once – in 2001 due to the foot and mouth outbreak. It went through some difficult years in the early 2000s but since the arrival of Paul Phillips, (Business Development Manager), some fifteen years ago, it has gone from strength to strength.
The past two year enforced “Covid break” has given Phillips and his team the opportunity to carry out some major research and undertake a comprehensive evaluation of the current offer. The result is a product development plan that looks stronger than anyone imagined.
Major changes and improvements are planned for the next couple of years - changes that will bring the TT to a global audience and which will hopefully open up new markets in, for example, USA, India, Brazil and Asia. It’s a hugely exciting proposition and the new innovations and product developments should propel the TT into a new era of growth.
Manxman Conor Cummins rolls up to the startline opposite the TT Grandstand
So, what can fans and riders expect?
Changes for 2022
The biggest innovation for next year will be live TV coverage of all practice laps and races for the first time ever in the event’s history. This is utterly massive for the TT and will obviously attract more sponsorship and money – good for fans and riders. It’s about time that road racers were properly financially rewarded for what they do.
For a while, it was always considered that it would be logistically too challenging to produce live TV coverage due to the sheer physical scale of the Mountain Course. However, Paul Phillips and his team are proposing a full package including an on-site studio, two helicopters for aerial shots and a huge number of fixed location and kerb cameras at strategic points around the island.
Dean Harrison blasts through the Manx countryside on the Silicone Racing ZX-6R Kawasaki
The TT will have its own dedicated digital channel – (the OTT Channel) – due to launch in Spring 2022. This will provide a mix of free to view and paid for content year round - not just during TT fortnight, including documentaries featuring the racers. With an internet connection, fans will be able to view every practice session and race on the channel. This development will take the TT from an existing audience of a few million to potentially several billion. The traditional evening highlights shows will continue to be broadcast on terrestrial television.
The digital side of interest over the last few years has really taken off. There’s a huge demand for more footage – especially of on board which is borne out by You Tube views of videos like Peter Hickman (0.75m views) and Guy Martin v Michael Dunlop (19.3m views).
Changes for 2023
The first big change is that there'll be more races. An all new race schedule for 2023 will include an additional Superstock and Supertwins race – so there will be a total of ten races spread over eight days rather than eight races over seven days. The Senior TT, traditionally held on the last Friday will be moved to the final Saturday, so racing will extend over two weekends.
Changes in engine configurations and capacities in Sidecars and Supertwins classes will also be introduced which will allow more manufacturers to enter these classes.
Sidecars will now include capacities up to 900cc twin cylinder engines rather than be restricted to 600cc in-line fours - the vast proportion of which have been CBR600RRs. This will allow manufacturers like KTM and BMW to become involved with their 890 and 900 respectively.
And in Supertwins, a class that to date has been dominated by Kawasaki ER6 650s with the odd Paton thrown in, engine capacity will be raised to 700cc.
Derek McGee - through St Ninian's Crossroads on the Kawasaki Supertwin
This is a major deal for the class as it allows Yamaha and Aprilia to enter the mix - Yamaha with the MT-07 and Aprilia with their belting new 660 parallel twin. It’s going to be hugely exciting to see the Aprilia in this class. With an engine that develops almost 100 bhp “out of the box,” several teams and riders are going to be seriously eyeing it up for 2023. The days of ER6 Supertwins dominance are numbered.
Other improvements and innovations will be introduced regarding the timing of practice sessions and a new Fan Zone is going to be created to improve the “user experience.”
So, what’s not to like? If you’ve never been to the TT, then start planning your visit. It will be one of the best trips you’ve ever made. We can’t wait to return to the Rock next May - along with another 50k fans. It sounds like the next few years could be some of the best ever!
Dean Harrison celebrates his 2019 Senior TT win
All 📸 - Diego Mola